Christopher's Reviews > Orthodox Church: Four Hundred and Fifty-Five Questions and Answers

Orthodox Church by Stanley S. Harakas
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Jul 20, 2007

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Read in February, 2006

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH: 455 Questions and Answers is a collection of questions which appeared in the "Religious Question Box" column in the Hellenic Chronicle from 1980 to 1985. The questions answered range the gamut from difficult theological questions like original sin and the second coming, to explanations of ritual like censing and blessing with water, to everyday matters of our society such as rock music, sex, and politics. Some of the letters are written in a very eccentric manner, but the authors of the column are always able to answer even the most badly-phrased question with a patient and comprehensive answer.

The Hellenic Chronicle is, of course, a Greek newspaper and much of the commentary here is dedicated toward a Greek Orthodox audience. I was unhappy with the rather rude treatment of the Orthodox Church in America (making it seem like a hardly-significant Russian denomination). What limits the book, however, isn't a denominational bias, but rather a focus on helping cradle Orthodox understand the faith they grew up in. There is little focus on the questions converts have and the difficulties they face. Indeed, the entries here were written before the massive influx of people leaving evangelical Protestantism for Orthodoxy in the late 1980s, and so it lacks the helpful tone that many introductory publications from other presses offer. The book can be useful for people new to Orthodoxy, but should really serve as support to other materials. If you are a total neophyte, start with Timothy Ware's already classic THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.
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